15 Parenting Mistakes

Teenage girl looking anxious

Parenting is the oldest and most important jobs in history. Without it, we would not have over 7 billion people living on this planet. Most people want to be good parents. They want to raise responsible, happy, independent and successful kids. Even if we have kids for the purely biological reason of reproducing, we must ensure the future of our offspring, right? So nobody wants to make too many parenting mistakes.

I have been a parent for 26 years. As an educator, I also worked with many kids and had a lot of contact with parents on the way to becoming a parenting expert.

Over the years, I have written over 1,500 articles about parenting, happiness, and education. All my articles focus on the mission of raising happy, successful, friendly, smart, responsible and independent children. The rules of parenting are very clear and there is a variety of things you can do as a parent to ensure that your offspring will survive, be happy, be successful and your bloodline will continue for years to come. What you need to make sure is that you pass on to your kids more than just “blood”, more than just the things that transfers the second you conceive your kids (those genes stored in sperm or egg).

Parenting is also about transferring what is in your heart – your attitude. If you have the right attitude, you are more likely to be able to ensure a good future relationship for you and your kids. If your attitude is bad, you run the risk of being erased from your children’s lives. If you want to know how serious this is, read our post Divorcing Your Parents to see how many people are not in a relationship with their own parents. Imagine trying to pass on your legacy when you are not involved in the lives of your kids and grandkids.

Some parenting mistakes are not easily fixed, but it is never too late to start making a change. Here are some of the parenting mistakes that many parents make that can destroy the relationship between them and their children.

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Life According to the Native American Code of Ethics

Native American Elder

Through my work in diversity education over the past 7 years, I have taken part in many debates and conversations about religion, ethics, morals, values, and our role as parents and educators in instilling them in our children. Many people see conflicts between the different ethnic groups, religious groups, tribes and cultures. Personally, the more closely I look at it, the more I understand that these different groups have more commonalities than differences.

In life, you get what you focus on. If you focus on differences, you will see the conflict between cultures. If you focus on commonalities, you will see similarities and how we are all connected.

Recently, I had a chance to read the Native American Code of Ethics. This code has survived for thousands of years. This is probably one of the oldest cultural codes that still exist today. There is evidence that the indigenous American people migrated from Siberia over 11,000 years ago. Yes, 11,000 years ago! Can you imagine how long that is?!

To put it in perspective, Judaism is about 5,000 years old, Buddhism is about 2,500 years old, Christianity is about 2,000 years old, and Islam is about 1,500 years old. Meanwhile, the Native American tradition goes back 11,000 years. Fortunately, if you go deep into each of these belief systems, you will find very similar codes of ethics.

My work in personal development is in the service of all these codes of ethics. I believe that regardless of which one we follow, if each and every one of us strives to live by them, to the best of our ability, we will have a better world. Striving is the most important part. Eventually, if you keep going in the right direction, you will get there.

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Do Parents Let Their Kids Play Violent Video Games?

Violent video games

Recently, I received a question from a mother who said her teenage kids wanted to watch violent video games and they claimed other parents allowed their kids to do so. They thought she was just being mean and ignorant of what was happening in the world. “I do not like the idea of them playing violent and sexist video games but I feel helpless”. Her idea was to design a questionnaire for parents and see if her teenagers were right. She asked me what I think of her idea. Here is what I wrote to her:

Your experience is quite normal and it is wonderful to read that there are people like you still out there, advocating for children to be engaging in healthy activities!

Feel free to set the rules in your house. Your teen is a teen. He does not set the rules. You do! He is welcome to make different rules in his house!

You don’t need a questionnaire to back up what you already know is right. You can be the captain of your own family ship, regardless of what other parents do.

Kids cannot buy their own games, computers, iPhones, etc. You have a lot more power than you think! I have clients who found amazing result when they put their kids on a technology diet for a week. Their kids were suddenly like new! If they can’t use your credit card and don’t know your PayPal password, you have nothing to worry about.

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Save Your Marriage: Trust (or The Boy Who Cried Wolf)

Broken vase

Trust is a very important currency in marriage. It gives both partners a sense of certainty in the relationship, which helps it survive and remain strong. Certainty is a need we all have in life. Subconsciously, we would be willing to do a lot in order to have it met. When our sense of certainty is a bit shaky, we get anxious. This can be a killer in a relationship.

If you know the story of the boy who cried wolf, you understand why trust is so valuable. In the story, they boy would run to the village to beg the townspeople to help him. A wolf was chasing his sheep. The villagers rushed to help, only to discover that there was no wolf and the boy had lied. A week later, the boy did it again, and again, and again. The villagers came once, twice and even three time, and each time, there was no wolf. Until one day, the boy came running in a real panic, begging for help. A wolf was really chasing his sheep this time. But the villagers did not believe him. He had lied to them too many times. And the boy could only watch in horror as the wolf ate his sheep.

This post is part 28 of 28 in the series Save Your Marriage

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Conflict Resolution in the Family

Boy and girl fighting over a jar

Every family has fights. Even in the most wonderful family, people fight sometimes. Fights can be between the parents, between parents and kid and between kids themselves. Fight create conflict and can damage the delicate fabric of relationships. However, if you come out of the other side of the fight stronger, it can in fact strengthen the bond between family members. This is why conflict resolution in the family is so important.

If you are a parent and you have fights in your family, rest assures you are perfectly normal. The science of fights and conflicts is easy to learn and master. Once you learn the tricks, life can be much easier. It does not mean there will never again be fights in your family, but it does mean you will have less fights and you will be able to bounce back from them faster and come out stronger.

Teachers can usually manage fights in the classroom much better than parents do at home. This is mainly because they have learned some tools to prevent fights and ways to manage conflicts if it does arise. What this means is that you might notice some kids fight more at home than at school. This is more to do with the person “running the show” rather than the kid themselves.

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Be Kind Like Socrates: Triple Filter Test

Statue of Socrates

If there is a trait I want my kids to have, it is kindness. Being kind to others brings more kindness to your world. I want my kids to feel that they are surrounded by kind people.

Unfortunately, they are not always surrounded by kind people. At least not as I would like. It is frustrating because I can’t choose who they hang out with. When they were 5 or 6 years old, I could monitor their surroundings (even then it was not 100% of the time) but the more I wanted them to experience the world, the more I had to let go of this desire to control whether they hang around kind people or not.

My youngest daughter is now 13 years old and she is experiencing lots of the not-so-kind things her friends say about each other. There is a constant struggle for popularity and power through gossip and talking about each other behind backs. We as parents think this is the opposite of kindness and we don’t want our daughter to be part of it.

Talking about other people who are not present is not always bad. Our family rule is to only say nice things about others and “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything”. The more brutal version is “when you have nothing good to say, shut up!”.

Socrates had a very logical way to tackle the same problem. He called it the Triple Filter Test. Here is a nice story that explains Socrates way of deciding whether to talk or not talk about others behind their back.

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Attachment Theory: Secure and Insecure Attachment in Teenagers

Teenager wearing a hat

Babies’ relationships with their parents in the first years of life has a significant impact on their future relationship. As babies, the attachment they have to their parents will become a blue print of their attitude towards themselves and others. During that period, they create a “navigating map” and use it until they become teenagers. In teen years, which are considered to be between 11 to 25, teens renew this map and the relationship between them and their parents becomes even more important for their future relationship.

For parents, this is the perfect opportunity to fix any problems in the relationship. For example, amending insecure attachment or making an already slightly secure attachment more secure. This is our second and the last one.

Like in early childhood, a secure attachment in teenagers is characterized by the ability to seek comfort from a meaningful figure when they are going through difficulties. It is also measured by how fast and how easily they are comforted and able to get them back on track, enjoying life and being available to absorb new experiences.

This post is part 5 of 6 in the series Attachment Theory

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How Can Parents with Different Religions Raise Kids Successfully? (Q&A)

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important things is they should be part of our daily lives. Dalai Lama

The question about two parents with different religions or belief systems raising kids has become very relevant in our society today. The world is much more multicultural and there are many mixed couples finding love and wondering about the impact of this on their kids.

My eldest daughter, Eden, is getting married in 2 months to her now-boyfriend, Sandy. Eden and Sandy are a gorgeous couple and we are very happy they found each other. No pressure or anything, but we are also very much looking forward to them having kids. The interesting thing is that Eden and Sandy come from two different cultural backgrounds, different languages and different faiths. Many of our family members and friends have been wondering about the “chance” of such a relationship succeeding and the difficulty in raising kids.

I cannot say exactly what will happen for Sandy and Eden. I am not a fortune teller after all. I am, however, the state director of a not for profit organization that provides education on diversity and advocates for religious and cultural tolerance. I strongly believe in this work.

In some way, Eden and Sandy have more similarities than many other couples do. For example, they are both migrants, both their parents are still together, they both value different cultures, they both speak languages other than English and appreciate others who speak other languages, they are both kind and accepting of others. I think the “chance” of a successful relationship depends not on the number of differences between them but in their ability to appreciate and take advantage of the similarities.

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Strong Affirmations: High Self-Esteem

Strong affirmations

Self-esteem is something that functions like fuel to the body. If we have high self-esteem, the ride is better in many ways. We move forward more smoothly, we have fewer problems and we get to our destination faster.

Everyone has some level of confidence in life. It is just that some people have more than others and they seem to go through life with much more success and happiness. People with high self-esteem have fewer doubts and they don’t blame their “ride” every time things don’t happen the way they want them to be.

Let’s face it, we can’t always get what we expect 100% of the time. If we could, we would be able to predict what will happen in the future (I don’t know if this is a better way to experience life but let’s leave this dilemma for another post). What we can do is make sure our beliefs set us on a very easy, smooth (as much as possible), happy and successful ride. If it can get us forward faster, all the better.

This blog is full of many beliefs about living life with confidence. I have written about ways to instill confidence in our children as parents or teachers. The list of affirmations that promote high self-esteem is endless. If I tried to write a list of them all, I would find myself spending years and never reaching the end of the list. There are millions of thoughts or combinations of thoughts that support high self-esteem and boost confidence. Notice these in yourself and in the world around you. Start collecting them and learning how to adopt them.

This post is part 1 of 6 in the series Affirmations

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Peer Pressure: The Power of the Group

Cover of Be Special Be Yourself for Teenagers

Teens are often criticized for not being able to stand up to peer pressure. In my parenting workshops I show parents and teachers how much they, as mature adults, grownups and parents, submit to group pressure. They are usually very shocked to discover how many things they do that do not match their own thoughts and beliefs, and how strong their desire is to be accepted, not judged and not criticized by the people around them.

Being social creatures makes us compromise our thoughts and beliefs to match those of the society we live in. It is in some way a survival mechanism that got out of control. In the beginning, we did it to survive in the group. Later on we have to obey the group if we want to be accepted in.

The power of peer pressure was examined many years ago in a famous study called “Asch’s conformity experiment”. This short video can explain how easy it is conform.

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